Are we the center of the universe?

Ah, dark energy. No one can see or feel you. In fact, no one even really believes you exist — deep down. In fact some have calculated the odds of your existence at 1:10^120 or even 1:10^500. But unless we posit your existence we likely have to disbelieve our observation about how fast certain distant supernovas are receding from us. Dark energy is needed to provide the explanation that these supernovas are not only receding from us, but receding at an accelerating rate.

And another thing. The Big Bang theory predicts the creation very early on (at three minutes) of a very specific amount of very precisely specified light nuclei.But we just can’t find the lithium it predicts. Not having enough lithium is certainly depressing. So what to do?

Marco Regis and Chris Clarkson from the University of Cape Town have a paper in arXiv, “Do primordial Lithium abundances imply there’s no Dark Energy?,” which they claim solves both problems. It involves eliminating the assumption that the universe is relatively homogenous and that we are “typical observers,” — the so-called Copernicus principle. As a result of their model, we happen to live in a relatively empty part of the universe. But it just so happens to be right in the center! (Just like the Church tried to tell Copernicus when it banned his book.)

The authors admit that this is somewhat unlikely. They say: “At first sight the void models appear fine-tuned as we must be within tens of Mpc of the centre, a coincidence of 1 part in ~ 10^8.” On the other hand it’s much more likely than the existence of dark energy. And it saves the Big Bang from a big embarrassment.

So after 500 years of being told by Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, Freud and Einstein that we are not at the center of the universe, maybe we are.

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